Bougainville Travel Guide

Discover the best places to visit, things to do, and where to stay in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. Learn about the local culture, cuisine, and safety tips for your next adventure.

Introduction to Bougainville

Bougainville is a hidden gem situated in the western Pacific Ocean, in Papua New Guinea’s autonomous region. With its pristine beaches, rich history, and unique culture, Bougainville is an excellent destination for adventurous travelers who want to immerse themselves in nature and discover local traditions. This comprehensive travel guide will provide you with all the information you need to plan a memorable trip to Bougainville.

List of Places to Visit in Bougainville

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

Bougainville has a fascinating history that is reflected in its museums and historical places. The best places to visit include the Bougainville Peace Memorial Museum, which showcases the island’s history and culture, and the Toniva Cultural Centre, which is a living museum where tourists can learn about traditional Bougainvillean way of life. Other worthwhile sites include the Kieta District Cultural Centre and the Lava Tubes of Buin.

Natural Attractions of Bougainville: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

For nature lovers, Bougainville boasts a plethora of natural attractions that offer breathtaking views and exciting outdoor adventures. The must-see sites include the Numa Numa Trail, which is a challenging six-day hike through misty mountains and dense rainforests, the Tuhuanunu River, where visitors can go on a scenic cruise and spot crocodiles and flying foxes, and the turquoise waters and white sandy beaches of the Pokpok Island.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Bougainville

Bougainville is a hiker’s and biker’s paradise, with vast stretches of untouched wilderness and stunning scenery waiting to be discovered. The trails are abundant with native wildflowers, wildlife, and waterfalls. One of Bougainville’s popular routes is the Kokopau to Arawa challenge, which is a two-day walk via rugged terrain through dense rainforests. For experienced mountain bikers, the Buin Loop offers stunning views of the coast and beautiful tropical vegetation.

Best Things to Do in Bougainville: Activities and Tours

Aside from hiking and biking, Bougainville also has many activities and tours available to visitors. Bougainville Off-Road Adventures offers visitors a chance to ride in their customized 4x4 vehicles and explore the rugged terrain of the island. For avid fishermen, the Aropa Airport Fishing Charter offers deep-sea fishing trips along the Bougainville coast. The Wahu Community Lodge offers ecotourism experiences, including birdwatching, visits to traditional villages and custom performances.

Week-Long Itinerary for Bougainville

For those who want to experience the best of Bougainville, we recommend a week-long itinerary that includes exploring historical sites, embarking on outdoor adventures, and indulging in the local cuisine. Here’s a sample itinerary:

Day Activity
Day 1 Visit the Bougainville Peace Memorial Museum
Day 2 Hike the Numa Numa Trail
Day 3 Go on a river cruise along Tuhuanunu River
Day 4 Spend a day at Pokpok Island
Day 5 Explore Kieta District Cultural Centre
Day 6 Visit the Toniva Cultural Centre
Day 7 Indulge in local cuisine and go souvenir shopping

Food and Drink Scene of Bougainville

Must-Try Dishes

Bougainville’s cuisine features a unique combination of land and sea staples, with a heavy focus on fresh ingredients. The must-try dishes include Bougainville’s traditional umu feast, which is when locals cook traditional foods such as pork and chicken on hot stones in the ground, taro, and cassava. Other favorites include chicken soup; fish stews cooked with coconut milk and vegetables, and fresh lobsters and prawns when caught.

Local Beverages

In Bougainville, you can quench your thirst with fresh fruit juices made from local tropical fruits, including papaya, mango, and guava. Coconut water is also widely available, as are traditional yam drinks, such as ‘bu’ and ‘nunu.’ And for those wanting something stronger, the locally brewed beer ‘South Pacific Export’ is a favorite.

Where to Stay in Bougainville: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

Bougainville has a good number of accommodation options ranging from hotels and guesthouses in Arawa, to eco-lodges run by local communities in the interior. Some of the best places to stay in Bougainville include Arawa House, which offers comfortable budget accommodation, the locally run Wahu Community Lodge on Buka Island, and the Tinputz Guesthouse for a more local experience.

What to Buy in Bougainville: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

When in Bougainville, some of the must-buy souvenirs include locally made pots, baskets, wood carvings, shell jewelry, and intricate bilum bags. The bilums are weaved bags that are an integral part of the Papua New Guinea culture, and there are countless designs to choose from.

Local Culture and Customs of Bougainville

The Bougainville culture is deeply-rooted, and all visitors are expected to be respectful of local customs and traditions. It’s considered impolite to take photos of people without their permission, or to wear shoes in traditional huts. If you’re invited to a local feast, it’s essential to arrive on time and to bring a small gift.

Best Time to Visit Bougainville

The best time to visit Bougainville is from June to September when the weather is dry, and the scenery is at its most beautiful. But, as it is tropical Bougainville does have rain all year long.

Do’s and Don’ts of Bougainville


  • Respect the local customs and traditions
  • Be mindful of your surroundings and belongings
  • Try the local cuisine and drinks
  • Take plenty of insect repellent and sunscreen


  • Take photos of people without asking for permission
  • Wear shoes in traditional huts
  • Leave valuables in plain sight

Safety and Health

Safety in Bougainville

Bougainville is generally considered safe for tourists, but it’s always advisable to take necessary precautions, such as not walking alone at night and carrying a phone for emergencies. Also, be wary of unmarked mines and bomb remnants from the conflict that ended in the late 1990s.

Health in Bougainville

Malaria is a significant health concern in Bougainville, so it’s essential to take antimalarial medication and use insect repellent to avoid contracting the disease. Visitors should also be up-to-date on routine vaccinations, such as measles and tetanus.

Getting to Bougainville: Transportation Options and Logistics

Airports Near Bougainville

The main airport serving Bougainville is the Buka Airport which has flights to and from Port Moresby.

Bus Stations Near Bougainville

Bougainville does not have an established bus service and visitors rely on chartering a vehicle or using a local taxi.

Other Options

For more adventurous travelers, the MV Chebu Shipping Vessel offers weekly services to and from Buka Island.

How to Get Around in Bougainville

The best way to get around Bougainville is to use a hired vehicle, either a 4x4 or a local taxi. It’s important to note that Bougainville’s roads aren’t on par with those in most western countries, so it can be challenging to navigate at first.

Where to Go Next from Bougainville: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

If you’re looking to extend your visit to Bougainville, some of the best nearby destinations include the breathtaking islands of New Ireland and New Britain, and the Solomon Islands, just a short flight away.


Bougainville is a hidden gem that’s well worth the visit for its rich history, scenic beauty, and unique culture. With this comprehensive travel guide, you can now plan your unforgettable trip to this stunning island paradise. Remember to always take essential precautions, respect the local traditions, and soak in every cultural and natural experience that Bougainville has to offer.